They say that one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia is “cognitive or memory impairment.” That sounds so abstract and harmless until you start to experience it.
I’ve never had the best short-term memory. I’m absolutely terrible at remembering peoples names, birthdays and there is no way I will ever remember your phone number. I have worked at the same place for over 2 years now and I recognize the faces of my coworkers but I still can’t remember all of their names. Thank god we have to wear ID badges. I’m a terrible story teller because I get halfway through a story and forget where I was going with it. I’m absolutely awful at remembering the names of movies, books, etc. I often look at my husband and say “You remember that movie with the actress we like who had that big part in another movie,” or something equally as vague. Bless his heart, he usually knows what I’m talking about.
Add my poor short-term memory to my fibromyalgia and I’m now wondering if I even have a brain. I’ve noticed my memory lapses and fibro fog has been growing worse of late. I frequently walk into a room and ask myself “Why did I come into this room?” I usually have to retrace my steps only to remember the item I was looking for halfway back to my starting point. At work, my office space is off a long corridor, forming a T. I frequently go out into the corridor and will walk in circles for a bit until I remember where I need to go. So far, no one has noticed, at least I hope they haven’t. I’ll be looking through the contacts list on my phone and forget who I wanted to call. I’ll leave someone a voicemail at work and forget my phone number so I have to stutter until I pull out the cheat sheet I have with it written down. Absolutely any sort of appointment or deadline goes on my calendar with a reminder set, otherwise I’ll forget about it.
These things are all annoying but not to bad. Of late, I’ve been having more severe lapses. I have to set up alarms on my phone to remind me to take my pain medicine every 4 hours. Even then, I will look at my pill bottle and not remember if I took my dose 15 minutes ago like I was supposed to. Then I have to ask myself do I risk taking it twice or risk feeling worse because I never took it? I’ve forgotten to take several doses of my Lyrica this week and have felt worse for it. I had to make myself a checklist Friday so I can check off all the meds I’m supposed to take a day and each time I’m supposed to take them. I didn’t add all my supplements or the l list would be huge. I take 30 pills a day now between all my meds and supplements.
The really scary one that has me questioning if I have a brain left at all involves driving. I’ll drive to work in the morning and suddenly find myself nearing the interstate exit for work and not remember anything from getting on the interstate near my house to that moment. That’s a good 15 minutes of drive time with no brain at the wheel. I’m just driving on autopilot I guess. Or I’ll be going to the mall and instead I’ll suddenly find myself getting off the exit for work which is 3 exits after where I needed to get off to go to the mall. Or I’ll be driving through town and find myself somewhere I didn’t mean to go. This is why I do my best not to drive in the evenings or at night anymore, because that’s when the fog is worse. Driving on autopilot on the interstate really scares me though. I hope it doesn’t get any worse or more frequent.
“Cognitive or memory impairment” doesn’t sound so bad on paper. When you start living it though, it’s a real pain in the butt. Between the pain and memory loss, I feel much older than I actually am. My 29th birthday is this month, but I feel several decades older than that.
To work so hard to be mindful and stay in the moment to help control my pain and fibromyalgia, to then walk into a room and not remember what I came in there to do, it’s just another way that fibromyalgia kicks you when you are down.